Breaking cultural stereotypes while making friends in exotic places. My recent trip to Beijing has opened my eyes as an American and as I now focus on finishing my degree in Educational Consulting, I hope to share my experiences and knowledge with others so they too can make a difference in the lives of others and their community.
Saturday, November 17, 2018
Why You Will Love The Bakeries In Beijing
I like sweet food. I arrived in Beijing wanting something sweet after spending over twelve hours in a stuffy plane and eating the food offered on the flight. The only good thing about the food on the flight was the Magnum Ice Cream bar.
My first week of living in Beijing was filled with eating every known form of cooked rice. Spicy rice, sweet rice, sticky rice, brown rice, etc. My host mom ate healthily. There was always some type of rice in each meal (including breakfast). Rice porridge was the only thing I ate for breakfast. After about a week of constant rice, I decided to venture out with my host sister to the grocery store.
Dora, my host sister, enjoyed showing me everything she wanted for her birthday and I ended up buying a few unneeded toys for Dora and her dog, Lu Lu. In the grocery store, I noticed that many of the snack food I was used to back home was extremely expensive. Bubblegum was close to $4 a pack (12-24 count) and chocolate bars were close to $6 or more. I knew that I needed to find a way to satisfy my sweet tooth without going broke the second week of my trip.
I arrived in Beijing with $300 USD which converted into 2,081.40 Yuan (RMB). I planned on making that money last the entire trip. This meant that all my traveling, food expenses, and admissions for tourist sites would be coming from my $300 USD. I knew that I would need to be frugal as I was aware that the taxi trip from my host parent’s home to the airport was going to cost around 100 to 150 RMB (I was charged 178 RMB when I was brought to the airport).
Nanluogu Ziang Street
I learned right away that if I wanted to buy food, I needed to go to street markets, hutongs, and bakeries. The street markets were a hit and miss as certain street markets were known as tourist hotspots and the prices were higher. The numerous hutongs were also a hit and miss as some hutongs were known for luxury items and food (tourist traps). The quality of these ‘luxury items’ were sometimes worse than second-hand shop clothes. I bought a traditional dress from one of the stores in a popular hutong and had the seam fall apart before I took it off.
The bakeries in Beijing were my favorite place to visit as every day I could see the bakers make the bread, cakes, and so forth. I visited one bakery so often that the head baker knew me by name. My roommate and I stayed away from the bakeries in hutongs and tourist areas as the prices seemed to be higher and the quality lower.
It wasn’t until the fourth week of my trip that my roommate started to run out of money. In response, she couldn’t eat much of the food on menus. We had found out that if we were running low on cash, the bakeries were great places to get a meal. I bought six items including a whole loaf of raisin bread, croutons, six donuts, cheesy bread, tiramisu, and a strawberry parfait. This only cost me $7 USD or 48.57 Yuan (RMB).
Hutong - Jellyfish
It was easy to spend more time in a bakery than a hutong. The bakeries were inviting, had sitting areas, and calm music playing (many times American Pop music). The staff of the bakeries were friendly and even though I didn’t speak Chinese, they worked with me when I didn’t understand certain things. Our translators on our phones were out often.
According to Trip Advisor, the one bakery I loved going to is number 7 on their list for the top ten best bakeries in Beijing. The Bakery I visited the most often is known as DaoXiangCun Bakery. The bakery is to the west of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
My suggestion to anyone who is traveling to Beijing or one day wish to visit Beijing, to visit some of the bakeries. I’m not someone who usually visits establishments like these in the states but was pleasantly surprised by the quality and prices. Compared to Starbucks, a place I visited nearly every day, the bakeries had better quality bakery items.